I’ll be on Chuck Todd’s Daily Rundown on MSNBC this morning, towards the end of the show on the roundtable. Topics to be determined . . .
Is Obama Blowing This Election Before Our Eyes?
There will inevitably be twists and turns in the coming months, but . . . is this thing starting to feel like a foregone conclusion to anybody else? I just keep waiting for some other shoe to drop, some much better line of argument from Obama, some genuinely devastating ad, some new bit of evidence that the Obama policies are working, and it feels like . . . fffft . . . One wet noodle after another.
Here’s a good question: When’s the last time President Obama came back from any point in his presidency? Probably the bin Laden kill, right? I look at the Gallup approval rating since the beginning, and it seems like Obama has been in the 40s since about April 2010 or so. Sometimes he’s in the high 40s, sometimes it’s in the low 40s. He’s at 46 percent approval, 48 percent disapproval right now. That disapproval rating has been in the 40s since late 2009 and hit 50-51 percent a few times last year.
Mind you, I don’t want to get overconfident, and after watching five straight presidential elections either go badly for Republicans or go down to the wire, the notion of a solid, strengthening GOP wave through the summer and autumn seems . . . odd and hard to process.
There’s a zeitgeist in the air over the last few weeks, and the polls confirm it: President Obama is flailing as he comes to grips with campaigning to keep his job. Several of his 2008 states are now in play, including Ohio, Wisconsin, Nevada, Virginia and North Carolina. While he flails, he sinks, and Mitt Romney has emerged from a bruising primary battle looking like he could win.
The shift in the campaign is not happening by accident. The fact is, the RNC and the Romney campaign have come into the general election swinging, and swinging with great effect..
It has been less than a month since Mitt Romney officially clinched the GOP nomination by winning the Texas primary on May 29. But in the weeks since then, Obama has not had one single good day. From awful jobs numbers to the “private sector is doing fine” to the debacle in Wisconsin and the raw exposed divisions within the Democratic Party over his tactics and rhetoric, Obama has been suffering a flurry of terrors. He is looking like a loser for the first time in his career, and neither he nor David Axelrod seems to know what to do about it. The June 8 press conference was supposed to right their ship, but Obama’s private sector comment just made things worse, so less than a week later the nation gets treated to . . . yet another speech. We’ve seen this about as often as we’ve watch[ed] Gilligan’s Island re-runs in syndication. It won’t move the needle unless Obama does something dramatic, but that would cut into his “no drama Obama” schtick and might look desperate. Mitt Romney, meanwhile, looks relaxed on the campaign trail while his message is fostering zero friction among the GOP. Romney has not made the sale yet, but no one should expect him to this early. He just has to stay on message and stay on offense through the conventions, and then come out from there looking like a plausible president with ideas for fixing the economy.
Anyway, here’s how David Axelrod began his fundraising e-mail of last night:
This is a make-or-break moment for middle-class Americans — and anyone who cares needs to watch the speech President Obama made in Cleveland today.
Make-or-break moment? Dude, the middle-class Americans are like the Costa Concordia right now. Already broken. That moment passed. Now we’re looking at the rebuilding stage. The message from the Obama team is, ‘Careful, Mitt Romney would louse up this fantastic recovery we’re enjoying.’
So how was Obama’s big speech in Ohio greeted? Mediaite, bring us up to speed!
“I thought this, honestly, was one of the least successful speeches I’ve seen Barack Obama give in several years,” said Newsweek editor Jonathan Alter. “It was long winded. He had a good argument to make, and at the beginning of the speech he seemed to be making it in a fairly compelling way but then he lost the thread.”
Alter said he thought the speech was “way too long” and Obama had “lost the audience by the end.”
Daily Beast columnist and economist Zachary Karabell agreed with Alter, saying that the President opened the speech well, but quickly lost the plot.
When he went, sort of, away from offense and on to defense, ‘what we’ve done and what we’re going to do,’ it became unbelievably diffuse and, in some sense purely as a political phenomenon it was very ineffective in that respect because it very well characterized the opponents as ‘this is not going to work’ but it didn’t really give you the sense of what will.
MSNBC anchor Tamron Hall attempted to clarify the President’s points for her panelists, seeing that the conversation was rapidly spiraling into pointedly off-message territory. Hall said that Obama made a key point that a Romney administration will rely on a more laissez faire approach to tax policy which, in her opinion, would hurt the middle class.
Relax, Mr. President. You’ll always have Tamron.